Today marks the 28th World AIDS Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness about HIV/AIDS and mourning those we lost to the disease. It seems fitting that we mark this day in December, when the days are short, in honor of all those whose light was taken from this world too soon.
Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), memorializes trans individuals who have died because of anti-transgender discrimination and victimization. It occurs annually on and around November 20th each year.
A few weeks ago, many Jewish communities, mine included, read from Megilat Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) during the holiday of Sukkot. I heard the reading of Kohelet on my sister’s bat mitzvah – the first time I had been to my synagogue for a service since I came out as trans. The writer of Kohelet is believed to be King Solomon, the wisest man ever, and the son of one of the most famous bisexual men ever – King David.
Here.Now. is a teen-driven Jewish movement providing support, building connections, and reducing mental health-related stigma through creativity, partnerships, events, and innovative online content. They recently paired teens with professional comedians from MTV and Comedy Central to write comedy about celebrating resilience and loving their differences! On November 20th, the teens will make their major comedy club debut.
I’m writing this as the father of a transgender child, who feels constricted in a space too narrow to accept my child and so many of God’s children as equals. I’m also frustrated, as someone who identifies as some version of traditional, at how small we have made the Torah and the limits that we have put on God and holiness. It’s my intention that by expanding Torah thoughts we can get closer to understanding how big and inclusive the Torah really is.
Until my grandfather’s death in July, I’d only attended one funeral. It was for a friend’s father in the seventh grade, and while I grieved for my friend, I didn’t understand the gravity of the situation, or what going to a Jewish funeral really meant. I visited her house for shiva, paid my respects, and returned to my own home, putting the entire event out of my mind. It never occurred to me that all the Jewish rituals she observed in the following days were put in place for a reason. I didn’t understand that they were there to help one grieve.